With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
My heart skipped a beat when the driver in an attempt to manuever the car to avoid a road crater along Atiku road, Adewole, Ilorin, Kwara State almost ran into an oncoming vehicle. Just few metres ahead on same road another vehicle swerved dangerously to our side almost brushing the car. The driver cursed under his breathe as the other vehicle drove past but the fault was not any of the driver’s, because seated right in the middle of the road is a death trap- a crater. This is coming as a surprise given the vigour with which the present administration started in the area of road rehabilitation and the avowed promise to make all roads motorable. Sadly, the patching of roads which the state government embarked through the Kwara State Road Maintenance Agency (KWARMA) upon has since stopped without explanation to Kwarans. The hopes that were raised when the promised massive rehabilitation of roads commenced has no doubt began to wane.
Many roads within the state capital are still littered with pockets of potholes- Asa Dam road, Ahman Patigi road, Alore, Pakata, Ita merin, Okelele, Osere, Sawmill road, Alagbado and Mini campus road, to mention but a few.
The danger which these potholes pose is best imagined, while I and other occupants of that car were lucky on the fateful day, there have been quite a number of accidents on the road leaving victims injured. Residents of the affected areas and motorists in the area motorists have continued to bemoaned the deplorable state of the road which poses grave threat to their safety.
One thinks the rehabilitation of the road should be given priority considering its economic importance. For example the Asa Dam is an industrial layout that play hosts to the highest number of industries and factories in the state, also sited in the area is the state House of Assembly complex, which should ordinarily generate concern by the lawmakers too. Asides that, it is the gateway to the state capital, hence the need for the state government to make the road motorable. There is the need for the agency handling the road rehabilitation project to live up to expectation by ensuring that the project is done not only to specification but timely too in order to put an end to hardship faced by users of the road and for safety of lives. A job well done will guarantee long life span of the road and will help the state save money which would have been used for subsequent incessant road repairs. Its durability is of importance given the high number of long articulated vehicles that ply the road.
Although the state government must be applauded for the rehabilitation of some roads, it will only be trite to rehash importance of good road to economic development of any state. Therefore the present administration must not rest on its oars in this direction. The supervising ministry, Works and Transport must effectively play its monitoring role in the interest of development of the state.
However, the state government must not limit its road rehabilitation effort to the state capital. Its road development tentacles should be extended to the rural areas, given the socio-economic importance of a good road particularly to agrarian areas. It is common knowledge that roads are integral part of rural development, which also stimulates overall development by providing access to economic and social infrastructure and facilities.
Most farm produce come from the rural communities in the state and if the rural communities are not opened up, it would be very difficult to get such produce to a ready-made market where they can be sold to people within the state and beyond. Therefore, The provision of roads and transportation facilities are fundamentally important to the development of the state. And, incontrovertibly rural development will help to improve the quality of life and economic wellbeing of people living in non- urban centres.
In Kwara, over seventy percent of the state’s population are rural dwellers, hence the need to place significance on rural development. A good road network is crucial to all socio-economic activities of rural population. Without good roads, other infrastructure cannot be delivered.
The amount earmarked for road constructions by the present administration will mean nothing to those who don’t feel the impact on the road budget; to them it remains a figure-on-paper.
Development of the nooks and crannies should continue to be the overiding interest of the present administration. It is also noteworthy that most of rural communities have tourist potentials, which are yet to be exploited. The natural endowment has potential to be a huge revenue earner for the state and by extension the country, just as it could serve as pivot for further economic and social development of the communities.